Monday, December 29, 2014
Undrafted out of college, Gray's caught on with the Cleveland Browns in 2013 and spent the season learning the H-back and tight end positions. He was brought back to Minnesota prior to this past season and made the Vikings as a backup tight end. Gray appeared in eight games for the Vikings, catching one pass. He was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills and finished out the season with them.
Following the 1987 World Series (Anderson was not a part of the post-season roster), Anderson was removed from the Twins' 40 man roster. Every other team in baseball had a shot at him, and they all passed. After a nice start to the 1988 season at Triple-A Portland, Anderson was added to the Twins' rotation at the end of April. He pitched surprisingly well for through mid-June -- good enough to keep his spot in the rotation anyway. Superstar teammate Frank Viola was dominating the AL, on his way to 24 wins and the Cy Young Award. Anderson quietly mirrored Viola's steady control and usurped future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven as the Twins' #2 starter.
The defending champion Twins were in a tight pennant race with the Oakland A's all summer long. With pinpoint control, Anderson was one of the biggest reasons why the Twins were able to remain in contention into September. While his mentor Viola ran away with the Cy Young award, Anderson closed the season with a three-hit shutout against the A's to lock up the AL ERA title.
In 1989, the wheels fell off for the Twins. Viola got off to a rough start and was eventually traded to the New York Mets. With Blyleven and Viola both gone, Anderson was suddenly thrust into the ace role. He responded with a career-high 17 wins, though his ERA jumped over a full run, to 3.80.
He had a remarkable two-year run, but Anderson came crashing back to Earth in 1990, with a 7-18 record and 4.53 ERA. Things got even worse in 1991. While the Twins were on their way to another World Series title, Anderson lost his rotation spot during the summer and was, once again, left off the post-season roster. He would never again appear in the majors.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Jimenez, had an all-glove, no-bat skill set, but his glove didn't really play in the big leagues. In two years with the Twins, he threw up an abysmal .195/.231/.257 slash line at the plate, and ranked as a below-average defender. So speed must have been his game, right? Wrong. 0 for 2 in career stolen base attempts. In fact, Jimenez's most memorable moment as a major league ballplayer was staring at the Metrodome ceiling, waiting for Dave Kingman's pop-up to come down (which it never did).
Monday, December 1, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Spud became an NBA phenomenon in the mid '80s after winning the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest. He was known more for his height and dunking ability during the peak of his popularity with the Atlanta Hawks. The best statistical years of his career came with the Sacramento Kings in the early 1990s. He briefly returned to the Hawks in 1995 and at the 1995-96 trade deadline, he was shipped to the Wolves in a deal for Christian Laettner.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Mauch spent five of those 26 seasons with the Twins, managing his nephew Roy Smalley. Despite consistently losing his best players (Bert Blyleven, Bill Campbell, Lyman Bostock, Rod Carew) due to penny-pinching ownership, Mauch kept the Twins competitive. They finished over .500 in three of his four full seasons. The wheels fell off in 1980, though, and with the team at 54-71 in August, Mauch resigned.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Walton only hit .176 over his big league stints with the Twins in 1973 and 1975. In 1974, he spent the entire season at AAA Tacoma and smashed 35 homers and 109 RBI. Three years later, he would blast 42 homers while in the Dodgers' system. Despite all of his ability and raw power, he would total only 28 home runs in 297 games over a nine-year major league career.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014
But when it comes to the only stat that truly matters, Cuozzo is at the top. His .762 career winning percentage as a starting quarterback (16-5) is the best in Vikings history among players who started as many games as he did. (Jeff George had an .800 percentage, but in only ten games.)
These days we would call Cuozzo a game manager -- a quarterback who plays just well enough to not lose and lets the defense and running game lead his team to the win.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014
The 1984 team was the first competitive Twins team of my lifetime. They finished 81-81, missing the playoffs by just a handful of games. 1984 featured the debut of a speedy centerfielder named Kirby Puckett and an MVP-deserving season from Kent Hrbek. But the biggest reason for the Twins sudden transformation to contenders was the emergence of a decent starting rotation. Viola blossomed into an ace that year, but the next two spots in the rotation were solidified by a couple of guys who were acquired in the offseason. In December of 1983, power-hitting outfielder Gary Ward was traded to the Texas Rangers for pitchers Mike Smithson and John Butcher.
Neither had much of a track record in Texas. Butcher spent the majority of his four years with the Rangers as a swingman. Meanwhile 6'8" former Tennessee Volunteers basketball star Mike Smithson (the tallest player in the league for most of his career) was coming off a 10-14 mark in his first full season. Both accumulated well over 200 innings, double-digit win totals, and sub-4.00 ERAs for the Twins in '84.
As for Smithson, he was never a great pitcher, but he was extremely dependable. From 1984-1986, he was good for about 36 starts, 250 innings and 15 wins each year. His ERA would rise and his strikeout totals would drop each season, but he was there every fifth day. Unfortunately for Big Mike, everything gave out during the Twins historic 1987 season. His ERA ballooned to 5.94 and his record fell to 4-7. He spent part of the season in the minors (for the first time since 1982), and was ultimately left off the post-season roster during the Twins' run to the World Series.
If not for the injury, there is no doubt in my mind that Keith Millard would be right next to his longtime teammate Doleman in Canton. Four weeks into the 1990 season, though, his knee was obliterated in a game that the Vikings eventually lost to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Millard never again played for the Vikings. He fought hard to return, but it took him two years to get back into the NFL. In 1992 he got into two games for the Packers, got released, and got into two more games with the Seahawks. In 1993, he managed to stay in the league all year for the Eagles, but was a shell of his former self. That was curtains for the career of a man who was on his way to being mentioned in the same breath as Alan Page and John Randle among Vikings defensive tackles.
On a personal note, I was thrilled to get this card back from Mr. Eufemia. I'm also grateful that he added a signed 1986 Topps rookie card (which I did not send to him). I was a bit disappointed, though, that he kept the 1983 Visalia Oaks and 1986 Toledo Mud Hens minor league cards I sent, as they were for two projects I am working on (the 1983 Fritsch Visalia team set and the 1986 ProCards Project). If anyone has signed or unsigned copies of these cards out there, please let me know!
Monday, October 27, 2014
Also of note: check out that signature! Gilles Gilbert is the Harmon Killebrew of hockey autographs.
After a long minor league playing career, Boudreau embarked on a far more successful coaching career. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach after his first season behind the Washington Capitals bench in 2007-08. Since then, he has won six division titles in seven seasons as an NHL head coach (four with Washington and two with Anaheim).
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Always one of the more insightful voices in the Vikings locker room, Irwin earned his law degree near the end of his football career. He opened his own practice after retiring from football, and is presently a juvenile court judge in Knoxville, Tennesee.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Following tenures in Washington and Kansas City, Gannon blossomed under Jon Gruden in Oakland. He went to four consecutive Pro Bowls for the Raiders from 1999-2002. He was a first-team NFL All-Pro selection in 2000 and 2002. In 2002, he led the league with 4,689 passing yards, was named the AP NFL MVP, and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Vargas made his Target Field debut at the 2014 All Star Futures Game. Days later, he leaped from AA to the Twins' everyday lineup. With his size and smile (and sprinkled with the eternal resentment Twins fans feel over losing David Ortiz for nothing 11 years ago), he was annointed "Little Papi." Vargas became the third player in MLB history to tally at least 34 hits and at least 24 RBI over his first calendar month in the majors. The other two: Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Battey won his first Gold Glove award in his first season as an everyday player for the Washington Senators in 1960. He would three-peat as the AL's Gold Glove catcher over the Twins' first two seasons in 1961-1962. In 1962, he appeared in both the mid-season and post-season All Star Games -- the first two of his five All Star appearances as a Twin.
Battey passed away in 2003 after a battle with cancer. The following year, he was posthumously inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Prince signed with the Twins as a 36 year old free agent in 2001. That was, of course, the pivotal year in Twins history where, in the face of contraction, the young nucleus of Hunter, Mientkiewicz, Jones, Koskie, and Guzman came together to give the Twins their first winning season in nine years (in manager Tom Kelly's final season). Prince appeared in 64 games as A.J. Pierzynski's backup and mentor. In his 15th big league season, he established new career highs with 215 plate appearances and seven home runs.